What Japanese computer vision startup Edison.ai takes away from Techstars Music

What Japanese computer vision startup Edison.ai takes away from Techstars Music

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The Edison.ai team participating in Techstars Music (May 2018, Los Angeles)
Image credit: Edison.ai

See the original story in Japanese.

Brand Pit– the company that analyzes images posted on social media and provides brand companies with marketing data acquired from the brand logos in the images for gauging the popularity of their products, regional distribution, use cases, etc. It has been about 5 years since The Bridge began following them, and in the intense world of startups they have stood the test of time.

To update our readers, last year Brand Pit changed its name. The new name is Edison.ai. The previously uttered joke, “the startup with a name like that famous actor…” no longer holds true. When we caught up with them recently, we learned that they are participating in an accelerator program that Techstars started last year called Techstars Music, held in Los Angeles, the home of the music business. Based on our previous image of Brand Pit, we couldn’t imagine how they would fit into the music industry, so what sort of pivot did they undertake?

Techstars is a long-established accelerator based in Boulder, Colorado.. It operates Global Accelerator Network (GAN) and is entrusted with managing corporate accelerators around the world.

However, unlike these corporate accelerators in their kind, Techstars Music is specialized in a certain vertical and sector, and it is one of the programs for which Techstars voluntarily collects and manages multiple sponsors. Along with Warner Music and Sony Music, Japan’s RecoChoku participates as a sponsor.

Founder and CEO Chu Tsz Tat (TT Chu) joined the first batch in Los Angeles from February of this year for 13 weeks (about 3 months) and explained that participating in Techstars Music was heavily involved in the company’s name change from Brand Pit to Edison.ai. Ten teams were chosen for this accelerator (11 teams selected, 10 teams graduated), and each team receives $120,000 US in financing from Techstars, however the program’s goal is not supporting user growth or funding.

It seems like the intention is not to benefit to a specific music company, but to further evolve the music industry as a whole (by involving startups). (Chu)

Even in Japan, Avex and others have started accelerators (Avex Ventures’ website appears to be closed), but it is still hard to say that the momentum is building to transform the entire music industry. It seems it will take time and effort to disrupt the conservative music industry with the power of startups, even just pursuing concessions among businesses. The goal of Techstars Music appears to be cracking the door little by little into this world.

Edison.ai

What sort of transformation has the former Brand Pit, which was largely associated with FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) brands, undergone after coming into contact with the music industry? The answer lies in the expectation that the music industry wants to know what its audience is interested in.

Music companies can probably obtain metrics of streaming or downloading music content from online music stores, and perhaps a certain amount of offline sales data can be acquired from real music stores via their point of sales systems. We can also speculate about the possibility of accumulating data from concerts and music events where artists and fans are directly interacting each other through ticket digitization.

However, even that is not enough to comprehend the full music scene. Edison.ai participated in Techstars Music under the hypothesis that its technology would be helpful in understanding where and under what circumstances, what kind of artists and which songs are getting popularity.

Chu related that Techstars Music’s Managing Director Bob Moczydlowsky launched the music division of Twitter and has a very deep understanding of data collection and analysis, so Chu’s team was very lucky to participate in the program. Other features of Techstars include finding mentors who have experienced exits and relentlessly connecting industry leaders with participating startups.

Edison.ai (formerly Brand Pit) participates in various accelerator programs such as IBM BlueHub, Kirin Accelerator, Paris-based Numa’s La FrenchTech, Hong Kong’s Swire Group, and Australia’s Global Incubator Network. For the time being, the company is more focused on technological development for applications that have expanded its target field, as well as user validation, rather than financing.

Meanwhile, it seems that Techstars is increasing its presence in Asia more and more recently. Techstars Music, mentioned above, is preparing to recruit teams for its next batch, and since the beginning of the year it has begun the Rakuten Accelerator in partnership with Rakuten. Even at the Techsauce Summit held in Bangkok this week, it will invited Techstars co-CEO David Brown as a keynote speaker, so we can get answers to the question about Techstars’ extraordinary interest in Asia.

Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda